George Clinton :: Computer Games :: Capitol Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"Flash, why are you reviewing _Computer Games_ on RapReviews? That's NOT a rap album." Well dear reader you'd be right, technically speaking. George Clinton is not spitting bars anywhere on this CD, nor do any of the P-Funk musicians who helped him with this disc suddenly bust out a freestyle. Now if you used the word "rap" in a much broader sense than "rhythmic chanting to musical accompaniment" and in the more colloquial sense of "talk" or "conversation" then you can definitely listen to George Clinton and say "THE BROTHER GOT A RAP!" What I'm arguing here though is that there is a collective sense of HIP-HOP found within these "Rap Reviews," one which has enabled us to cover various funk, rock, reggae and pop albums over the years. Furthermore when you consider the elements which make up hip-hop music collectively you can't find any "rap" per se in beatboxing or turntablism, yet these artists have traditionally been reviewed on this and other similar sites.

The funny thing here is that the argument is nowhere near that esoteric, considering a majority of the songs on "Computer Games" would be recognized as both rap AND hip-hop by today's youth. The song "Atomic Dog" in particular has been sampled so many times in rap songs as to practically be synonymous with hip-hop. Why if you go to the Rap Sample FAQ and search the song, you get dozens upon dozens of entries for rap songs that sample from it, and I'm willing to bet even that is just scratching the surface. You undoubtedly know some if not all of these famous songs which loop it by heart.

Just like the beat the list goes on and on. It really comes as no surprise that "Atomic Dog" should be this widespread in hip-hop music though, given the art was at its heart from the very start driven by DJ's using parts of other songs and looping them as breaks to toast over, with those very toasters being the original rappers. What else would they use besides the very music that everyone wants to hear at the local block or basement party? It's been said many times but it still rings true: "Make my funk the P-Funk, I wants to get funked up!" As technology during the 1980's and 90's made sampling techniques easier and cheaper, those same beats remembered so fondly from the 1970's and 80's found themselves used more and more frequently. Eventually the fur started flying as sampled artists (or just as often if not moreso their labels) sued to cash in on the preceived unlicensed usage, but an Atomic Dog can just scratch off that flea and move on. George Clinton has warmly embraced the hip-hop music that so fondly samples his funk and vice versa, even producing albums like "Sample Some of Dis" and "Sample Some of Dat" to make his beats more accessible to rap artists. That's not to say Clinton gives away the kitchen sink for free, but it's not the arduous process of "sample clearance" either that keeps so many unreleased rap albums in limbo for years.

The fun thing about "Computer Games" is trying to recognize just how much of it has been sampled and to consider how much of it COULD be sampled. Some songs I recognized right away such as Clinton's "Man's Best Friend/Loopzilla" appearing in Paris' "Break the Grip of Shame," whereas songs like "Free Alterations" are as much inspiration as they are sampling material - Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo could (and should) cover the song on a Gnarls Barkley album without anyone realizing it was a cover. That's not to say EVERYTHING on this seven song album is necessarily worth the time and trouble to break beats out of. In particular I'd skip over "Pot Sharing Tots." I realize Clinton was trying to be lighthearted and whimsical with this track but the song is so juvenile it makes Raffi's "Bananaphone" sound like sophisticated songwriting and composition by comparison.

It's hard to argue that this is the most consistent album in the George Clinton library, particularly if you place it within the context of an entire spectrum of Parliament and Funkadelic albums, but it could definitely be considered one of the most influential within hip-hop. Clinton has said he ad-libbed almost the entirety of the famed "Atomic Dog," and if that's the case perhaps you really can argue that this is a "rap review." There's no question that viewed in that context "Atomic Dog" is one of the most important and beloved FREESTYLES in all of hip-hop and will continue to be so for centuries. "Computer Games" is worth owning for "Atomic Dog" and "Man's Best Friend" alone, but aside from one major musical misstep it's worthwhile from start to finish. That one song mars the album more than most would though by only being 1 of 7 total as opposed to 1 of 20, but if you've never heard Clinton's work outside of a sample on someone else's song "Computer Games" is a good place to start.

Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10

Originally posted: April 8, 2008